AUSTIN (KXAN) — New evidence brought to light has lead the Austin Independent School District police to arrest and charge a former teacher with inappropriate relationship with a student. According to an arrest affidavit, Tiffany Howard, 41, who was also a coach had an inappropriate relationship with a student at Bowie High School.
AISD says the investigation into the accusations started nearly two years ago when letters were discovered in Howard’s desk at school.
According to the arrest report, one of the letters from Howard to a 9th grade girl said, “I really don’t think you have any idea of how I feel for you. I can’t wait to hold you all night.”
Police say when they questioned Howard and the student both told them nothing was going on, but the coach resigned from the district amid the investigation in October 2013.
In October of 2015, investigators reopened the case when the student changed her story and told them there was a physical relationship between the two.
“It’s very hard for a student to come forward and tell what has occurred because they’re concerned about the person they’re engaged in this relationship with,” said Austin ISD Police Chief Eric Mendez.
According to police, they met at Gorzycki Middle School, and the inappropriate relationship started once they were both at Bowie High School.
“These are a group of individuals who are engaging in, for lack of a better term, pedophile behavior” said Chief Mendez. “So they’re grooming their victims. They’re making sure that it’s kept a secret.”
During a hearing at the state capitol Monday, the Texas Education Agency shared the rising relationship statistics with lawmakers. Prosecutors who testified said technology plays a big role, and pointed to apps such as Snapchat and Kik where messages and pictures disappear.
Chief Mendez told KXAN while inappropriate relationships are becoming a trend, the number of teachers getting in trouble only make up a small percentage of educators. He believes in addition to legal consequences, there should be more teacher training up front and more tips shared with parents on how to talk to their students before problems start.
The AISD officials said counseling and other student support services are being provided to students, families and staff. They do not believe there are more victims in the Howard case.